So, the other day, I visited my uncle and it was lovely. I really enjoyed seeing my uncle, his wife, and their kids again. We talked a bunch. I played chess again for the first time in… ages. We had dinner.
Eventually, I had to leave, though, as I wouldn’t be able to catch another train home otherwise. But I was stopped. My uncle tried to convince me to stay, their daughter even said something like “he must hate it here” and I was a bit shocked.
I can understand my uncle’s remarks. It was cold and dark outside. It was getting late. They’d have no issue letting me sleep over or anything. It’s not an issue at all for them. The house is big and I’m just one more person. Heck, my parents, siblings and I will be sleeping over, probably, at New Year’s!
But I personally just don’t feel like I should sleep over.
It’s this odd thing about culture.
Whereas in Germany, you’d make an appointment to meet up, in Kosovo (where my roots are), it’s perfectly fine to just show up… mostly. It’s family after all.
Something my uncle taught me was that in Germany, an uncle has to sign papers that they’ll take care of their nephews should anything happen to their nephew’s and niece’s daughter or whatever… and in Kosovo, it’s something that everyone feels obliged to do. Obviously, this is more of an ideal than a set of norms and values… but I also got that impression any time I visited my distant family.
Family is very important over there. You take care of each other.
At the same time, I still don’t want to conform with those values and norms, though, even though I am Albanian. My “roots” are in Kosovo but I’ve been born and raised in Germany and when I wage one set of rules and norms against the other, I can’t help but feel like it’s just more reasonable to call before visiting, etc.
But I also find that you shouldn’t have to text people before calling them and you don’t need a reason to call people, either… That’s something I noticed with a lot of my German friends who essentially ask me “hey what’s up, everything okay?” when I call… even though I just wanted to chat. At times, it feels like “calling” has become this “only when in danger” thing. It’s weird.
Back to my uncle’s. As much as I do appreciate the offer and option of sleeping over, I don’t feel like I can make use of that kindness. This may have to do with growing up and being raised in Germany. It may have to do with these sort of things… but I also think it’s just a me-thing. I don’t feel like I deserve that kindness, possibly.
The other issue, though, is that I’m just not used to people. I live alone. Yes, I have a flatmate but I rarely see him and I spent most of my day in my room or in the library. I become anxious when I’m around too many faces and I struggle a lot with that.
Frankly, I find it exhausting.
Now, what adds to that exhaustion is the fact that children… are loud. That’s partially because children still breathe through their stomachs/diaphragms… but also because my cousins are very young and don’t exactly realise how loud they really are… and that’s fine… but it really gets taxing over time when they talk at max volume (and some more Db) into my ear…
Anyway, I needed to get going and I assured them I’d visit soon. They took me to the bus stop. I was honestly a bit confused about my cousin’s comment on me hating the place… because I don’t. It was lovely, after all. I was a bit confused about it because she ignored me for a good hour or two until I tried to talk to her about drawings and stuff. But again, she’s ten years old and is being praised for how smart she is and how excellent she is… maybe she picked up on something and understood it that way because it made sense in her world view.
She does that. She shouldn’t be faulted for it. She’s only ten. Still, I found that that comment hurt a little. It’s odd. I’ll have to visit my uncle more often in 2023 to make sure that misunderstandings like that don’t happen in the future… otherwise, it will end up with her having a grudge against me for decades. That’s not something I’d want.
I guess what I wanted to ramble on was mostly that I’ve been feeling the cultural differences a lot. I have been realising that there are differences in our norms and values these days… and it’s a little bit sad but also interesting.
I think that it’s fine for me to adapt to one culture or the other. I believe that that’s part of being part of both worlds… having a migration background… etc.
I think it’s fine for me to be open-minded and non-bigoted over here but to also embrace some lenient aspects of Albanian culture, like just visiting your relatives often.
I guess being liberal means that you’re open-minded to a degree and while I don’t condone my family’s bigotry… or my uncle’s and aunt’s anti-vax ideology… I believe that I should try and understand them more when they want me to stay over and when they want me to visit often. I’ll have to see to it that I do that, too, sometime.
And while I do bring up “liberals” and what not here… I don’t think it’s as much of a political thing as that may sound. I’ll get to know my girlfriend’s other grandfather today and he’s on the opposite political spectrum as me… and I am looking forward to meeting him as I truly do believe that we’ll get along splendidly. I think family is important and getting along is important, too… but that also requires some degree of masking, sadly, at least in my case… and that’s fine. I’m frankly used to that, I guess.